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31st October, 2018


So where did Sarande go? Sarande is still there, it’s in Albania - but I couldn’t get the Saga Sapphire there. It’s a very small berth in a restricted bay of limited navigable water and whilst I may have got on to the berth in the first place, I would have been there for a few days until the wind eased down! Then there was the potential to anchor. However, the ‘shore excursion’ uptake was huge, Albania proved to be an attractive destination on the itinerary and in such unfavourable conditions I would never have got all my Guest ashore and back without risk of injury.

After much brain-storming with my team, of whom Jo [Cruse Director] and Nat [Explore ashore Manager] super helpful, we were able to secure all ‘seats’ on local ferries to go from Corfu to Albania and back. Ultimately, I only succeeded in getting about 270 Guests into Albania, whilst a little bit of ‘ride‘ across on the ferry, yes, it was lumpy to say the least, the feedback from on the tours, which were extended to include local lunch, was that the opportunity was outstanding. It was necessary for me to cancel one ferry crossing because the conditions had deteriorated somewhat and of course, we had some disappointed Guests.

After sunset last night, the Albanian ferry returned to Corfu after some horrible downpours of rain in Albania. We finally left Corfu, after a two-day extended call, at 1930 last night.

The overnight passage across the southern extreme of the Adriatic had improving conditions and this morning, embarking the Pilot at 0630, it was a different world. We even had sunshine! The ship was parked by the Staff Captain, Denis, whom is getting used to the ship - she can be a bit of a handful. Nice job this morning by Denis, swinging the ship just south of the pier, and once all moored safe & sound, the ship was ‘cleared’ shortly after the gangway was in place.

Whilst there was only a slight chance of rain, that chance came along and the heavens opened. Hmmm, my guests are starting to challenge my weather forecasting ability! The day drew to an end quickly with the sun setting at 1650, just before our departure at 1700. Heavy grey clouds and a coolness in the air this evening, it did start to feel like winter.

The Safety officer, Matt drove out of Taranto; a relatively uncomplicated manoeuvre, albeit the Pilotage navigation was reasonably long. Once clear of the outer breakwaters we set various SW’ly courses to navigate seaward of the toe of Italy. In the morning we are due for our Messina Straits Pilot at 0845, one hour later we should be clear of Messina and heading west along the north shore of Sicily, but that’s tomorrow.

Captain Stuart Horne

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.